House Hunting for Buyers With Disabilities: How to Find Your Accessible Home

This article was authored by Patrick Young of ableusa.com

Finding the right house is hard enough. Finding your dream home when you have a disability? Now that’s another ball game entirely. Turnkey options are limited for buyers in search of accessible homes, but that doesn’t mean homeownership is out of reach if you have a disability. As certified Seniors Real Estate Specialists, Tracy and Owen of the Krueger Team understand the challenges of accessible homebuying and know how to find a home that lets you live barrier-free.

Be a Competitive Buyer

With limited housing stock for buyers with disabilities, it’s important that you’re prepared to make a competitive offer when you find the right home. This starts with getting organized to buy a home. Check your credit report and resolve errors; collect W2s, tax returns, and other important documents; and determine how much home you can comfortably afford on your budget. This is also the time to research mortgage rates and programs, especially if you’re a first-time buyer, as well as homebuyer programs for low-income households, seniors, and buyers with disabilities.

Once you’re ready to start shopping for homes, get preapproved for a mortgage. Preapproval shows sellers you’re serious and makes your offer stronger in a competitive housing market.

Look for Universal Design

Most mainstream homes aren’t accessible, but in recent years, homebuilders have started incorporating universal design into their construction. Universal design uses features like wide doorways, no-step thresholds, and accessible switches and hardware to create spaces with minimal barriers for the broadest number of people. While a house built according to the principles of universal design might not be 100% accessible, it’s likely to have fewer barriers and be more adaptable than other homes.

Include a Renovation Budget

The renovation budget is an essential part of any disabled buyer’s homeownership plan. From major renovations like installing a roll-in shower and custom kitchen cabinets to minor accessibility improvements like updating appliances, fixtures, and hardware, home improvement costs add up quickly.

Choose your contractor before house hunting so that you can bring an expert along when viewing homes. While you won’t get an exact quote from a walkthrough, a contractor or architect can assess the scope of the project so you don’t bite off more than you can chew.

As for affording those renovations, most buyers turn to home renovation mortgages like FHA 203(k) loans, Fannie Mae HomeStyle Renovation Loans, and VA renovation loans. Improvements may also be financed through personal loans, construction loans, or credit cards.

Decide if You’ll Move Now or Later

You’ve found your ideal home, but it could be weeks or months before renovations are complete. Should you relocate now or stay put until your new house is move-in ready?

To decide, consider the extent of renovations. If your home will be under construction with main living areas out of commission, you’re better off delaying the move or booking a short-term rental until renovations are complete. However, if only minor improvements are needed, you may be able to start enjoying your home sooner rather than later. Either way, be sure to factor this consideration into your moving budget along with moving expenses.

Hiring movers can also cost a lot more than you bargained for if you’re not careful. Avoid moving scams by only working with companies that belong to the American Moving and Storage Association and have adequate liability coverage. Online reviews are also a good indicator of a mover’s reputation.

Hire an Experienced Realtor

Your real estate team is the final piece of the accessible homebuying puzzle. As a buyer with special needs, you want a realtor that’s committed to finding the right home for your lifestyle, not just closing the deal as soon as possible. With a commitment to customer service and deep knowledge of the local real estate market, the Krueger team has the skills to guide you through the home buying process and into the accessible home of your dreams. Call 206-423-0063 today.